One woman shares her struggle with infertility to help others

Annette Prieto-Llopis says as the daughter of Cuban parents, she was always expected to graduate from college, get married and become a mother. At 27, she found out the last goal might never happen – she was diagnosed as infertile.

Feeling alone, afraid and exhausted in her web of five daily shots of hormones, many surgeries, excruciating abdominal pain, and emotional drain, she feels it would have saved her a lot of turmoil to have a support group to walk through it all with her. So, now, after finally coming to terms with her infertility, she decided to use her maternal instincts to support other women going through it.

“A lot of women are suffering in silence, and they shouldn’t be,” says Prieto-Llopis, 40. “If we are strong enough to speak about it, we can help somebody. I always felt like I was the only one. It feels like you’re isolated on an island until you find others in your same situation.”

In time for National Infertility Awareness Week, Resolve.org and Inspirational Mama will be hosting “Women Speak: Women join voices to bring awareness to infertility,” an event to provide support, education and inspiration to the one in eight couples suffering from infertility. Prieto-Llopis, will be sharing her 13-year journey with infertility on one of the panels this evening in Tustin, Calif.

She says as a Latina, and growing up in a culture that places so much importance on family, she feels a lot of guilt for not giving her mother a grandchild.

“That’s what hurts me,” says Prieto-Llopis, director for the Center for Hispanic Leadership.  “She wants me to feel good. She’s there for me, but she probably suffers for me more than I do.”

She also says that the emotional pain is stronger than the excruciating physical pain. She worries about her parents getting older, and if when she finally has a baby, whether they will be too old to keep up with him/her.

Although she says she just recently just surrendered her Type-A need to control her situation over to destiny, Prieto-Llopis has decided to take the reigns on starting her own support group at her Saddleback Church starting May 10.

She also has been going to monthly support groups at Resolve.org – a national non-profit that helps women dealing with the infertility, and has been working one-on-one with Molly Nichols, owner of Inspirational Mama, who she met while going through her last treatment in October of 2011.

“We worked on positive affirmations and meditation,” says Molly Nichols, another woman who suffered from infertility and now has twins, and who started her business which helps others in the same struggle in 2010. “Support when struggling through infertility is the number one thing that women and men need…Men feel like they don’t know what to do, and they’re struggling as well.”

Prieto-Llopis says she was raised not to talk about the whole gynecological world.

“People who aren’t suffering from it don’t know how to handle it,” she says. “Let’s just talk about it. Why are we hiding going to the the doctor? If you don’t know what to say, say something by just addressing it.”

She says that besides support groups, there is so much new information available to couples.  She wants to make sure to get the word out to other couples and just lift them to a better place than they are right now.

“Once I realized the power of really understanding the effect of what your mind can have on your body, I had to share it with the world,” says Nichols, who organized the event today.

She became pregnant after almost seven years of trying and only four weeks of meditating and changing her daily thoughts, fears and worries about her fertility. For more than a year, she has been working on strengthening Prieto-Llopis’ belief that she too will be a mother.

“I see myself having a child,” says Prieto-Llopis. “I don’t know whether through adoption, but I know I’ll have a baby in my future.”


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